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How Romance Novels Can Make Your Trade Show Marketing More Effective

The romance novel industry, or Harlequin industry, is the most researched and tested book industry out there.  Yes, believe it or not the covers of those paperback books with shirtless Fabio-like men, and titles like The Bounty Hunter and the Heiress, Falling for Mr. Dark & Dangerous, The Spanish Doctor’s Love-Child and 1-800-HERO, are all targeted messages focused on a specific market: women.  If you don’t believe me about the titles type them into Amazon.  There was major time, effort and money that went into picking the titles and image covers for these books.

Let’s take a quick look at the romance novel industry statistics provided by Carmel Hagan in her TEDx Talk:

The Romance Novel Industry:

  • 74 million readers
  • $1.5 billion dollar industry
  • 50% of the paperback market
  • 70% of fiction market
  • 50% of Harlequin readers read 30 books a month
  • 4 Harlequins sell every second
  • 46% of all paperbacks sold in US are Harlequins
  • 1 in 4 Americans read romance novels

Yes, this is a very large industry, and it is not just those cheap paperbacks.  They are dominating the digital world as well.  The number one selling book for the iPad is a romance novel.  I’m not telling you this so that you can curl up with a good romance novel and a glass of wine after a long day on the show floor.  I’m telling you this because the romance novel industry has done a fantastic job at creating a very focused and targeted product to meet the needs of their audience.  As Hagan points out, everything that makes it into the cover, title, or the actual book itself is heavily tested and targeted towards their audience.

Think of your trade show marketing efforts as a romance novel.  “Our eyes meet across the show floor and my heart burned hotter than the halogen lighting of his booth.”  Stop, not like that.  There will be thousands of attendees walking by your trade show exhibit each day you are at the show and you need to have a targeted message and content focused on what they want.  That message needs to be clear and direct as I mentioned in my post on How Trade Show Booth Staffing Is Like Speed Dating.  You don’t have a lot of time to capture and engage attendees, so your message needs to be clear and direct.  Ever wander through the romance novel section of a book store?  There are hundreds of books there, just like on the show floor, you need to make sure that your message is going to capture the attention of your audience.

Here are some basic steps to taking a more focused approach to your trade show marketing.

1.  Know your audience.  Hagan talks about several key words and male professions that sell the best and those are the ones that authors use in the titles and descriptions of their books.  Know the key terms, selling points, pain points or opportunities of your target market and tailor your message to them.  In short, know what your target market wants and specifically what they want at your show.

2.  Keep it simple.  Mike Thimmesch wrote a great post, Double Stuff Cookies, Not Your Trade Show Exhibit, on the importance of having a simple and clear message at your trade show booth.  It is not about telling the whole story of your company or product, it’s about a targeted message.  This is true for your display as well as your staff.  You don’t have a lot of time to interact so don’t try and tell attendees everything, just qualify them and give them what they need.

3.  Research and test.  Just like the marketing departments for those cheesy romance novels you need to know what key words, messages, features and benefits that your audience wants.  Sometimes this research is available, but often times it’s not. You need to test your market through social media, email marketing, surveys and simply connecting more with your audience.  The more you are in tune with your audience the better you will be able to know what their needs are.

This is far from a comprehensive marketing plan but I hope that it helps to show the importance of knowing your target market and having a simple and focused message that will tug at the strings of your audience’s hearts.

What's Working In ExhibitingA focused message is a great place to start when planning your trade show.  To find out more tips and strategies of successful exhibitors, read the  What’s Working In Exhibiting white paper.  Click here to request your free copy.

About the Author

Jordan Hanlon was a New Business Development Analyst at Skyline Exhibits, located in St. Paul, Minnesota.

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